Today’s events will jeopardise much needed Health rebuilding - Chambers

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Today’s events will jeopardise much needed Health rebuilding - Chambers

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Health Spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA has warned that today’s resignation of the First Minister will place much needed health transformation and rebuilding in jeopardy and cause instability through the loss of the multi-year budget proposal.

Alan Chambers said:

“When the Ulster Unionist Party had the courage to take on the Health portfolio and Robin Swann MLA took on the huge challenge of becoming Health Minister, it was to work in the best interests of all the citizens of Northern Ireland.

“Robin took on a Health Service that was on its knees after years of underfunding and that depended heavily on staff goodwill - willingly given - to function. Hospital waiting lists were at an all time high and indeed were the highest in the United Kingdom.

“The first thing the new Minister had to deal with was a strike by nurses over pay and conditions. This was a reluctant decision by these valued members of our health system. It was Robin who gave the assurances that got staff back onto the wards.

“On the heels of this crisis he was then confronted with a deadly worldwide pandemic that has stolen loved ones from many families.

“While dealing with this baptism of fire Robin identified the many areas of reform needed in our health and social care system. The Minister has long been clear that a multi-year budget was essential to deliver the improvements needed to tackle waiting times, as well as funding his new landmark cancer and mental health strategies. It now looks like our health and social care system has been robbed of the opportunity of an agreed Budget.

“Given that a three year budget will now not be put in place, the current focus on rebuilding and reform, along with staff recruitment and retention will be thrown into disarray.

“Reference has been made to planned possible relaxations of covid regulations being unable to be delivered by the absence of an Executive. The more concerning aspect is that should - God forbid - there be the appearance of a new covid variant, there would not be the mechanism to put in place necessary protective public health measures.

“The events of today will do nothing to reassure the public that the much needed health improvements being driven by Minister Swann can now be delivered in the short term. This will come as a huge disappointment to those hard working staff in our Health Service who have being pleading for the collective leadership that they deserve.”